A stunning example of the architectural ingenuity of the Chandelas is the lesser-known Lesser Surang Temple in Dudhai village in Lalitpur district. This temple is part of a larger complex that is under the protection of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
It is extremely unfortunate that the glorious period of the Chandelas and their commendable contribution to art, architecture, literature and philosophy has not been known about and appreciated by a sizeable portion of the Indian population as their role in shaping the future of Akhanda Bharat has been “conveniently” omitted by “eminent historians”. It is therefore, unsurprising that their grand history has been relegated to obscurity along with their temples, art, sculpture and architectural style.
The Lesser Surang Temple, though almost on the verge of collapse today would have been an architectural masterpiece of the 11th century. This temple is called Lesser Surang because the shikhara is comparatively smaller as compared to another temple in the complex known as Larger Surang.
However, on closer examination it appears that this temple in plan would have been very large with three shrines dedicated to Lord Brahma (in the south), Lord Vishnu (in the north) and Lord Shiva (in the west). This temple dedicated to the Trimurti has only two shrines now with the shrine dedicated to Lord Vishnu reduced to rubble and the shikhara over Lord Shiva completely lost. The temple was originally built on a high platform with ornate shikharas over the three temples.
The original layout shows an entrance porch and a mandapa that led to the three temples. The roof of the porch and mandapa has since collapsed though the four central pillars have managed to survive. It is unclear if this structure had an antarala. The lintels and the entrance doorway of the garbha grihas are adorned with beautiful carvings of the Navagrahas, Sapta Matrikas, gods and goddesses and typical auspicious Hindu iconography, foliage patterns and floral motifs.
The Lalata Bimba of the temple of Lord Brahma has a damaged three-headed Lord Brahma on his celestial swan in the middle with Gayatri Devi and Savitri Devi on either side while the Lalata Bimba of the temple dedicated to Lord Shiva has Lord Shiva in the form of Nataraja in the middle with Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma on either side.
The sanctum sanctorum of the temple of Lord Brahma is bereft of an idol while a Shiva Linga has been consecrated in the temple of Lord Shiva. Locals say that there was an idol of Chaturmukha Brahma along with his consort Savitri in the sanctum sanctorum but the temple was desecrated by the Muslim invaders and the British.
Inscriptions found in the temple states that this was constructed in the early 11th century by Prince Devalabdhi during the reign of Raja Yashovarman.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)